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Brazil's decorated mayor stresses people's inputs

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 22.10

NEW DELHI: At a time when Delhi is preparing for its first brush with participatory governance with 11 assembly constituencies shortlisted for a pilot by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Mayor Marcio Araujo de Lacerda has come to town with the smart story of Belo Horizonte, a city in Brazil's Minas Gerais state. Here, participatory budgeting is the norm. There are 1500 projects under execution with the vote of the public. And unlike its messy execution and management in Delhi, the BRT in Belo Horizonte is effective and has the approval of 85% of users.

The new AAP government in Delhi intends to make participatory governance a key component of the capital's development planning. Kejriwal's book, `Swaraj', gives examples from Brazil, Switzerland and USA. He cites a small town of 1.3 million people, Porto Alegre in Brazil, which has also drawn praise from World Bank.

Mayor Lacerda will be sharing the story of such initiatives at the ConnectKaro conference on Thursday. He will be drawing attention to how issues of urban development and sustainability have been tackled, citing examples from two major events - FIFA World Cup and the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil. In an interview, Lacerda - who has been voted as the best mayor in Brazil - recalled the challenges. "During the 1950s, 85% of our people were living in rural areas and now it is the other way round. The pressure was evident on the city's environment, housing, sanitation and traffic. All this began changing when about 15 years back the federal government introduced a statement of cities wherein every city had to define land use under a master plan. Then a ministry of cities was set up. In Belo Horizonte, we set the process in motion in 2009, giving shape to a strategic plan 2030," the Mayor said.

So, residents were called to give suggestions for the strategic plan at public meetings and through the internet. People were asked to contribute to the making of a vision document on 12 well defined key result areas associated with subjects like education, health, mobility, housing and environment. This led to a master plan in 2010.

Planning linked to the FIFA World Cup also led to smart city initiatives linked to mobility in particular. The BRT which covers 23km is hailed by the mayor as a success story. Around seven lakh people use this mode of transport daily and this has resulted in bringing down congestion extensively, says Lacerda.

He explains that in his city, people's voice finds prime space through many associations and research institutes that carry out polls using internet based platforms.

There is, in fact, now a Mobility Platform where people voice their suggestions and concerns and the authorities cannot afford to ignore their voice.

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Seamless, sustainable and safe

Agreenfield project can show case an ideal smart city and its objectives in a way that an existing thriving city can never do. The case study can, however, be instructive for such a city, like Delhi, when it sets out to become smart. Chhattisgarh's Naya Raipur project fulfils that need. Here a new capital is being created on the foundations of smart land management. Over 5000 hectares of land was acquired by making the affected villages partners in the process. To be developed in three phases, the Naya Raipur Development Plan 2031 has a population base of 5.60 lakh.

At a time when the rights of the land owner fearing displacement versus infrastructure development and land acquisition are a matter of national debate, the `Connect Karo - Smart Cities for Sustainable Development' conference that began in the capital on Wednesday showcased stories like that of Naya Raipur that puts the importance of the rights of the land owner and affected residents at the centre of any new smart infrastructure development.

In the session titled, `Land Management for Smart Cities', experiences of Gujarat's land-pooling exercise and Andhra Pradesh's compensation plan clubbed with regular pensions for affected families and Greater Mumbai's experiments with redevelopment were also shared.

The new city is about 20km from the current capital and is surrounded by a network of highways. The airport is close by. S S Bajaj, vice-chairman of Naya Raipur Development Authority (also director, town and country planning), pointed out that mobility is critical. In the new city, an extensive network of roads, expressways, BRT corridors and BRTS transfer stations have been planned. Environmental concerns will be a priorit . So, citizens will have access to a robust, non-motorised transport network as well.

Naya Raipur offers a range of facilities - from an IT and gems and jewellery SEZ and trade fair grounds to an international cricket stadium, golf course, botancial garden and jungle safari. In the midst of all this will stand the majestic Capitol Complex, the seat of government.

Bajaj said all planning is based on the principle of conservation of environment and hence solar energy and best practices for water harvesting and waste water management are being adopted. The process also takes into account sensitivities linked to security, particularly for women, children and the physically challenged, he said.

Naya Raipur is now also a model case because of the extensive land acquisition done to build the smart city through negotiations and a multi-pronged rehabilitation strategy."The land was acquired through consensus building by holding a dialogue with village heads and residents. They were told that they would be the first residents of Naya Raipur and compensation packages where three to five times higher than the prevalent rates," said Bajaj.

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Smart mobility can work only if people comfortable

NEW DELHI: Smart cities are not just about getting smart. It's also about listening to the needs of the people. That's the lesson that panelists of the smart mobility session at ConnectKaro, a meet on smart cities for sustainable development, shared on Wednesday.

Connecting smart mobility with sustainable development, transport experts made a pitch for development that doesn't just rely on technology but also connects that technology to the citizens' requirements — an accessible public transport system, last-mile connectivity and most importantly, reclaiming the roads for people, not just vehicles.

Making a strong case for a robust mass rapid transit system (MRTS), Prof Shivanand Swamy, architect of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Ahmedabad, said, "Without BRT, we cannot have mobility security." According to Swamy, with high motorization rates, the country needs a mass transit system. "It's not possible to cover a city the size of Delhi with only a rail system. At least 700-800km of MRTS is required, and this can be done by bolstering Metro along with BRTs."

It's a scenario that Diego Monraz can understand very well. The transport secretary of Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, Monraz was in charge of its BRT system that came up in 2007-08. The 16km corridor, which went through the most congested bus route in Guadalajara, took 12 months to complete. Today, the corridor carries 1,39,000 commuters every day, with the city government looking to add two more corridors in the next five years.

Monraz remembers how it came up after a biking event--much like TOI's Raahgiri--was started. "It was planned for 5,000 people, and 20,000 participated. That's when we realized how the city needed alternative transport solutions."

What everybody agreed on is the need for political will. While Swamy said the Ahmedabad BRT took off because of the approval of the Gujarat government, Monraz and Diego Hidalgo of Embarq, an organization with expertise in BRTs, admit that political will is a must. "The biggest change doesn't just come from people, but from the political class," said Monraz. So is a workable BRT possible in Delhi? "Delhi needs a minimum of 25-30km of the BRT network. Put specialized high capacity buses in it, and make it a closed system. Make it work like Metro, and it will carry more commuters than Metro," predicted Swamy .

Constructing a metro and a bus system is, however, only half the solution, said Peter Piet of Steer Davies & Gleave, a transport consultancy . "Why would anyone move from the comfort of a car to public transport unless you make that transition comfortable?" Piet said. People moved to public transport in London, he pointed out, only because the interchange was made easy. First and last-mile connectivity, accessibility and information are the only way to encourage people to make that transition. "Making schedules easily available allows the commuter to plan her trip, and that gives reliability," he said.

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'Pedestrian, cycling facilities cheaper than roads'

Air pollution in Delhi can be a catalyst for making crucial changes in our mobility system to incorporate infrastructure and space for pedestrians and cyclists, says urban planner Jeff Olson. Co-founder of Alta Bicycle Share, Olson, who has been a part of the greenways and cycle sharing initiatives in New York, told Jayashree Nandi that building pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is far more affordable than building infrastructure for cars which is why it shouldn't be delayed.

Did you see a major shift from cars to cycling after the bike share schemes were put in place?

It's still early to say we have seen that change in a big way. In Portland, Oregon, we now have 8% of people cycling and a significant number of pedestrians. These are people who shifted from driving. In terms of investment too it makes sense. The amount of money spent on building one mile of urban highway has funded all pedestrian and greenway projects in Portland for the past ten years..

People are scared to cycle or even walk on the main roads here because it's extremely risky. Do you have laws to protect pedestrians?

New York state law defines traffic to be pedestrians and bicycles and other modes sharing road space to commute. So pedestrians and bicycles are recognized modes, and that has probably helped drive policy to build infrastructure for them.

Cycling is often considered to be a poor man's mode of transport. How did you manage to in spire people to shift from cars?

In the wealthier parts of the world, there are people with significant health problems because of lack of physical activity and the response to it is to cycle more; in other parts, it's a mode for the poor who have no other choice. It's very interesting to see how these trends meet at the same point. And then it becomes like a social movement. In NYC, after bike share projects were launched and greenways developed, all of a sudden every media star wanted to be seen on a bike. Open a newspaper and you see Leonardo di Caprio on a bike; bike share was in the opening credits of the movie, Annie; and Paul McCartney mentioned it on a show. The more that happens, you break past that point of whether it's rich, poor or otherwise. It's seen as popular and people enjoy.

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22.10 | 0 komentar | Read More

Devansh Mehta files case against Stephen's principal

NEW DELHI: The suspended editor of a student e-zine banned by St Stephen's Principal Valson Thampu today moved the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the action against him taken by the college on disciplinary grounds.

In a writ petition filed before Delhi High Court, Devansh Mehta sought "quashing of the order banning/suspending publication of the St Stephen's Weekly, stay on the suspension order and restraining the principal from taking any further action against him".

Mehta, a third-year Philosophy student and editor of the banned e-zine, was on Wednesday suspended till April 23 after a one-man inquiry committee appointed by the principal found him guilty of violating disciplinary norms of the college.

"After the one-man inquiry committee (led by Prof Sanjay Rao Ayde) found the student concerned guilty of a serious breach, I discussed the matter with Ayde on the appropriate course of action. He suggested that a lenient view be taken and the matter be closed provided the person concerned is willing to express his regret and tender an apology," Thampu said.

"I requested Ayde, on the grounds that he is the senior tutor, to counsel the student concerned. His patient efforts failed and the student persisted with the posture of defiance," he added.

Mehta has also requested in his petition that he be awarded the Rai Saheb Banarsi Das Memorial Prize, for which he was earlier selected by the college faculty before being later dropped from the list in the wake of the controversy.

Mehta was selected by the teachers of his department and his name was announced on April 8, 2015. But the list posted on the college's notice board on April 13 has the name of a different philosophy student on it. Teachers say they weren't consulted or informed about the switch which is customary in the case of a departmental award.

According to the notices posted, this award is given to students of "the undergraduate economics and philosophy classes who have shown a high standard of personal behaviour and a marked degree of curricular and co-curricular interaction".

Teachers, however, are crying foul. While students' names may be withdrawn if there is a serious disciplinary issue, mathematics teacher and Delhi University Teachers' Association chief Nandita Narain feels the charges levellded against Mehta "are completely bogus". "Which college rule says you can't talk to the media?" she asks. "This is departmental award. The teachers decide who gets it. If the prize committee felt that the selection wasn't appropriate, they should've discussed it with the department. The two teachers in charge of it weren't consulted about the new name."

He was to have received the prize from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who will be the Chief Guest at the college's graduation ceremony on April 18.

As per the suspension order, Mehta will not be able to attend the graduation ceremony now.

"The person whose name the prize commemorates did care for 'behaviour', as the college too does. Recommending a student who has been indicted for undisciplined behaviour is an insult to the dead person as it is to the living college," Thampu said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Valson Thampu,Stephen,Devansh Mehta

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Co-founder of St Stephen’s e-zine stripped of award

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 22.10

NEW DELHI: The co-founder of St Stephen's Weekly, Devansh Mehta, will not get the Rai Saheb Banarsi Das Memorial Prize after all. A third-year philosophy student, Mehta was selected by the teachers of his department and his name was announced on April 8, 2015. But the list posted on the college's notice board on April 13 has the name of a different philosophy student on it. Teachers say they weren't consulted or informed about the switch which is customary in the case of a departmental award.

According to the notices posted, this award is given to students of "the undergraduate Economics and Philosophy classes who have shown a high standard of personal behaviour and a marked degree of curricular and co-curricular interaction". Mehta's name was announced just a day before the inquiry committee constituted by principal Valson Thampu to look into the St Stephen's e-magazine issue submitted its report. The one-person committee—senior tutor Sanjay Rao Ayde—had found that Mehta's conduct "undermined college discipline" by publishing the e-magazine without getting the content cleared by Thampu and talking to the media about the subsequent suspension of it.

Teachers, however, are crying foul. While students' names may be withdrawn if there is a serious disciplinary issue, mathematics teacher and Delhi University Teachers' Association chief Nandita Narain feels the charges leveled against Mehta "are completely bogus". "Which college rule says you can't talk to the media?" she asks. "This is departmental award. The teachers decide who gets it. If the prize committee felt that the selection wasn't appropriate, they should've discussed it with the department. The two teachers in charge of it weren't consulted about the new name." A protest now seems likely.

Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.


22.10 | 0 komentar | Read More

Co-founder of Stephen’s e-zine stripped of award

NEW DELHI: The co-founder of St Stephen's Weekly, Devansh Mehta, will not get the Rai Saheb Banarsi Das Memorial Prize after all.

A third-year philosophy student, Mehta was selected by the teachers of his department and his name was announced on April 8, 2015. But the list posted on the college's notice board on April 13 has the name of a different philosophy student on it. Teachers say they weren't consulted or informed about the switch which is customary in the case of a departmental award.

According to the notices posted, this award is given to students of "the undergraduate economics and philosophy classes who have shown a high standard of personal behaviour and a marked degree of curricular and co-curricular interaction". Mehta's name was announced just a day before the inquiry committee constituted by principal Valson Thampu to look into the St Stephen's e-magazine issue submitted its report. The one-person committee—senior tutor Sanjay Rao Ayde—had found that Mehta's conduct "undermined college discipline" by publishing the e-magazine without getting the content cleared by Thampu and talking to the media about the subsequent suspension of it.

Teachers, however, are crying foul. While students' names may be withdrawn if there is a serious disciplinary issue, mathematics teacher and Delhi University Teachers' Association chief Nandita Narain feels the charges levellded against Mehta "are completely bogus". "Which college rule says you can't talk to the media?" she asks. "This is departmental award. The teachers decide who gets it. If the prize committee felt that the selection wasn't appropriate, they should've discussed it with the department. The two teachers in charge of it weren't consulted about the new name." A protest now seems likely.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Valson Thampu,St Stephen,senior tutor,Nandita Narain

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22.10 | 0 komentar | Read More

Corporate espionage case: Delhi Police may slap Official Secrets Act against suspects

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police crime branch has found that at least eight of the documents recovered from the suspects in the espionage case are "classified". This paves the way for slapping of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

The documents pertain to the ministry of petroleum, oil and natural gas.

Delhi Police have written to the petroleum ministry to clarify the sensitivity of the documents and whether they can slap the OSA on the suspects for leaking and selling them.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Delhi Police,Corporate Espionage Case

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Principal, teacher dismissed

NEW DELHI: The principal of Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya School on President's estate has been suspended and a guest teacher dismissed after education minister Manish Sisodia discovered a number of irregularities on a surprise visit on Wednesday.

The anti corruption branch (ACB) has filed an FIR.

"There are students of food processing at this school but there's no laboratory. No practicals are conducted either. But items including chicken, mutton, olive-oil and sugar have been purchased. The irregularities are evident from the bills," says a statement from the minister's office.

"Materials have been purchased from places like Nand Nagri, Trilokpuri, Jahangirpuri and elsewhere. The samosas for the President's estate school are purchased from Trilokpuri," says Sisodia. The statement adds that the minister also discovered a 'blank bill book' in principal Vishan Lal's cupboard.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=teacher,suspended,Principal,irregularities

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Which bathroom to use? 'Third gender' still face such issues

NEW DELHI: A year after the Supreme Court's landmark judgement granting them the right to self-identify their gender, the transgender community says much still needs to be done for 'social recognition.'

"A year has passed but the plight of our community remains the same. There are few places where our gender has been recognised but still a lot of work needs to be done," says Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist.

Tripathi, along with members from her community, celebrated anniversary of the SC judgment at Jantar Mantar here today.

The occasion saw them pledging their eyes to the Eye Bank Association of India.

"The third gender category has been recognised in certain legal documents in certain states but where is the recognition for us in hospitals and in education institutions?

"In hospitals they don't know where to put us. There are no separate bathrooms for us. Such issues need to be looked into," says Amitava Sarkar a transgender activist from Kolkata.

In its order on April 15 last year, the apex court had said the states must construct special public toilets and departments to look into their special medical issues.

Also, in July last year, the UGC had notified transgenders as the third gender to enable them to be eligible for scholarship schemes and fellowship programmes in higher educational institutions.

The SC had asked the Centre to treat transgender as socially and economically backward.

However, Sarkar says she feels that discrimination of the trans community can only be stopped if children can be taught the difference between all the three genders in school.

"The problem is at the grassroot level. If children can be taught about different sexual orientations of all the three genders then there will be no dropouts of such children or individuals from schools or colleges. We can pursue our dream of higher studies and make a living," Sarkar told PTI.

Abhina Aher, chairperson of the South Asian transgender community says the need of the hour is to spread awareness about the rights and facilities available for the trans community, including reaching out to those who have not yet "come out".

"You have us but you don't want accept us. A total of 40 lakh ninety thousand are registered as third gender in the Census because they have come out and identified themselves," Aher says.

"Corporates too should come forward and give us an opportunity to work with them," she says.

Meanwhile, Tripathi has urged the government to open a dialogue with the trans community on issues like education, health, medical facilities, equal opportunity to work, social integration and proper census.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=transgender community,Supreme Court,bathroom

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